The purpose of the universal service is to guarantee that a basic telecommunications services offering is made available to all categories of the population and in all the regions of the country. These services must be affordable, reliable and must be of a certain quality. The universal service includes the public telephone service, broadband internet connections and the provision of special services for the disabled.
ComCom is obliged by the TCA to periodically put the licence for universal service in telecommunications out to tender and to award it on the basis of a competition based on criteria. It is within the remit of the Federal Council to adapt the content of the universal service periodically to social and economic needs as well as to technological developments.
On 18 Mai 2017 ComCom appointed Swisscom as the universal service licensee for the period 2018 – 2022.
The licence lays down the obligations of the universal service licensee. It also specifies the methods for calculating the costs of the universal service in the event that the licensee submits an application for financial support.
Following the Federal Council's decision, the minimum transmission speed from the network to the user ("download") will be increased from 3 to 10 megabits per second (Mbit/s) as of 1 January 2020. The minimum speed of the user's transmission to the network ("upload") will also be increased, from 0.3 to 1 Mbit/s. The Federal Council is thus implementing a motion adopted by Parliament calling for an increase in the minimum speed of the Internet, which is part of the universal service (Motion Candinas 16.3336).
Accordingly, ComCom has adjusted the universal service licence in November 2019.
In Mai 2022 ComCom has extended Swisscom's current universal service licence unchanged for another year. It has done so because of the ongoing amendment to the ordinance in which the Federal Council is redefining the scope of the universal service for telecommunications.
On 15 May 2023, ComCom designated Swisscom as the holder of the universal service licence for the next period 2024 – 2031 (see the press release below).
With regard to internet access, the minimum data transfer rate is 10/1 Mbit/s from 1 January 2020 onwards. From 2024, there will be an additional service with a transmission rate of 80/8 Mbit/s.